Santorum accuses reporter of 'harassing'
March 26th, 2012
09:23 AM ET
3 years ago

Santorum accuses reporter of 'harassing'

(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Monday defended his profane comment directed at a New York Times reporter and used the interaction in a fundraising pitch.

"If you haven't cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you're not really a real Republican's the way I look at it," Santorum said on Fox News. "It was just one of these harassing moments, and after having answered the question a few times, sort of comes back with the same old fashion, the same old spin."

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"I just said 'Okay, I've had enough of this you-know-what,'" he added.

Team Santorum invoked the back-and-forth in a fundraising email to supporters, asking them to contribute $30, what they said is the price of a subscription to the Times.

"I criticized Romney and Obama for their outrageous healthcare legislation. Predictably, I was aggressively attacked by a New York Times reporter all too ready to defend the two of them, and all too ready to distort my words," Santorum wrote in the email. "Let me assure you, I didn't back down, and I didn't let him bully me."

Santorum accused the Times' Jeff Zeleny of distorting his words following a question from the reporter Sunday night.

Zeleny asked Santorum if he thinks Mitt Romney is the "worst Republican in the country to run against Obama," something he said while campaigning in Wisconsin.

In response, Santorum said "I didn't say that. You guys are distorting what I'm saying … Quit distorting my words. It's bulls***."

But shortly before the questioning, at a campaign stop in Racine, Wisconsin, Santorum said, "Why would we put someone up who is uniquely - pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?"

The former Pennsylvania senator has made criticism of the national health care law and its similarities to the plan passed while Romney served as governor of Massachusetts a centerpiece of his campaign.

His latest "worst Republican" charge came after he was criticized last week for suggesting there are so few differences between Romney and Obama that "we may as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk," with the Republican frontrunner.

In his defense, Santorum said he would never vote for the president, but that "Romneycare" makes his rival uniquely unqualified to run against Obama in the general election.

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

Also see:

Santorum: Romney 'worst Republican' to run against Obama

Ryan's open to V.P spot

Graham's 'comfortable' with Romney

Plouffe calls out GOP candidates over Obama reaction


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Santorum
soundoff (561 Responses)
  1. Laverne

    Good ole Christian Santorum! This guy is a joke and such a hypocrite, I can't stand him!

    March 26, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  2. mm

    Amazing. The guy is burning out. If you can't handle reporters without cursing, how are you going to handle international diplomacy?

    March 26, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Rick is use to answering softball questions by Fixed News. I want to hear him denounce the woman's comments who said 'pretend it's Obama" when he was at the shooting range. Simply saying "I'm glad I didn't hear it" will not suffice. What if you would have heard it? Were you just going to go along with your activity? These are the kinds of people that support republicans......racists!

    March 26, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. JT

    Oh, Ricky, if you can't take the heat.....

    March 26, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. Anon-i-mouse

    Let me get this straight.... Santorum is getting mad at a reporter for distorting his words by using EXACT QUOTES from him?

    March 26, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Larry L

    He needs to stay within the comforting arms of Fox News – where no mean old reporters will ask him hard questions. At Fox they'll only ask his "soft ball" questions and they'll offer him a job when the campaign is over!

    March 26, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. GI Joe.

    Waaaaaah waaaaaaah. But did you see me bowling? waaaaaah

    Media is picking on me -- waaaaaah

    March 26, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Rick is acting like a child. Mittens is acting like a spoiled child. Newt is acting like a reality challenged child. None are worthy of being president.

    March 26, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. R.I.P. Damon

    So I suppose the fine people leaving comments on this post believe the NYT doesn't have a biased agenda? Puh-leaze. If you want to see the definition of "softball" interviews, tune into MSNBC or any of the Sunday morning programs when a Democrat is the guest. Honestly, I don't know why anyone would want to run for POTUS these days given the media climate on both sides

    March 26, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Solid

    "Santorum is getting mad at a reporter for distorting his words by using EXACT QUOTES from him?"

    Correct, that's actually exactly what seems to be happening. What a crazy person.

    March 26, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. Mikey

    So he cursed at a reporter who asked a ligitimate question about a statement he made? How presidential! Seems the frustration of losing to a pathetic, value-less empty suit is setting in.

    March 26, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. Levi

    Santorum is a joke. Trying to say that his words were distorted instead of admitting to what he said? Just like how he said that Romney's campaign and the media were trying to distort his words when he said that we might as well keep Obama rather than elect Romney even though HE IS ON CAMERA SAYING IT!!!!

    For a guy who has made his campaign off of claiming that Romney is a flip-flopper who changes what he says or says one thing and then backs off of it, Santorum sure has gone to the front of the pack for doing that these last two weeks.

    This bum needs to do the GOP a favor and just get out of the race. He can't even take questions from a reporter asking him about a direct quote without losing his temper.

    March 26, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. patriolic

    Santorum proves he's not of presidential temperament. There are folks in the press that lean right, lean left, are centrist, and everything in between. Reporters ask, as is their job, the same tiresome and leading questions over and over and over again. As the president of the US, one needs the temperament and the perspective to realize that is SOP, and to keep a level head about it. Not go all "The left liberal media is why I can't win!" "They are bullies." It's one thing for Tea Party redneck citizens to rail against the NT Times and for "elitist, educated liberals" to rail against FOX, but the president must remain neutral and show diplomacy and leadership, not curse and swear at reporters. It's a great failing of Santorum's, his selfish attitude. And, I must say, his language was not very Christian now, was it?

    March 26, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Why is it that right wingnuts think that Fox foreign owned media with a hint of Saudi, reports facts? The wingnuts think that any media that reports what a GOP candidate says is now "gotcha media." Imagine a world where the only media is Fox bias. Nazi Germany and Russia come to mind.

    March 26, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. DOG1

    I thought that one of the premises of being a Christian was to care for people? Why does he want to make sure a large portion of the american people don't get health care? OH yeah, I forgot, health care insurance corporations are a high profit margin industry as long as they can squeeze the middle and lower class Americans and, like all republicans PROFIT is the center of Santorum's religious beliefs. God's got a special place for these self centered, agenda driven fake Christians and they're not going to enjoy it.

    March 26, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. texan

    All depends on which side of the fence one is on............................

    March 26, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    Nice to see that he's filled with the love of Jesus.

    March 26, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. steven harnack

    Out of the mouths of baby brains,"you aren't a Republican 'till you've cursed at a ...reporter" for having the gall to ask you if you actually believe what you just said.

    March 26, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Karl Jonas

    Let me get this straight... Santorum thinks he's being "bullied"? Really? How rich.

    March 26, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    The Real Tom Paine

    Nice to see that he's filled with the love of Jesus
    -------------------------------------------------
    Bwahahahahaha!!!
    How much longer till November? All this campaign b.s. is cruel and unusual punishment.
    Obam 2012.

    March 26, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Dr Knowitall

    The New York Times has reporters ? Since when. I thought they fired their last actual reporter back in 1980.

    March 26, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Rick, if you are too thin-skinned now, imagine what it would be like if every delegate at the convention and has an epiphany and votes for you as the Nominee. Think you get a lot of negative press now? It will be even more intense then. Now, let's assume that somehow every voter in the US suddenly has an IQ drop and forgets everything they learned after 3rd grade (like how to actually reason), and you win in a landslide. Now you will have more "enemies" in the press than even Richard Nixon imagined he did.
    Do the country and your family a favor and drop out now. Save yourself the embarrassment of realizing that the only other state you are likely to win is Texas, as it is the only mouth-breathing state left to hold a primary. You are going to lose and lose big in New York, California and your former home state of Pennsylvania, where you have abandoned all the principals and rights your grandfather and father fought for.

    March 26, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. GI Joe.

    President Obama is the only one with Presidential experience, the knowledge, and the temperament to lead this nation at this time.

    Give it up, baggers.

    March 26, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. robertholt

    "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29.

    March 26, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  25. honeybe

    "If you haven't cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you're not really a real Republican's the way I look at it," Santorum said on Fox News.

    Oh, yes......this is the guy all the "christians" are supporting. What a joke.

    March 26, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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